DJ Demand Profile/Interview 1996
DJ Demand…staying true to the hardcore beat. The hardcore scene has been going through some changes. But DJ Demand’s COMPULSION night is as busy as ever. So what’s in store for hardcore this year…
Lately, the hardcore scene has been in what one certain DJ calls a “depression”. That same DJ has stuck in there during this time, whilst others have left ship to follow different musical paths. The word “hardcore” gives shudders down the spine to many people who immediately think of cheesy high pitched vocals paired with a lunatic breakbeat and some out-of-tune piano chords thrown in for good measure.
Well, one time, that may have been the case, but today, it seems that this so-called “hardcore depression” has weeded out the money grabbers, leaving the true hardcore pioneers to pick up the pieces and make something good of it once again.
One of those true pioneers is DJ Demand. One of the North West’s finest, he’s had success with ‘Dark & Light’, which made it’s way from white label on to Charly Lownoise and Mental Theo’s Master Maximum label in Holland, with everybody from Carl Cox to Slipmatt dropping it in their sets, making it something of a huge hardcore anthem. But that was back in the early days, when the hardcore scene had a true meaning.
Today, Demand has made something of the broken pieces left behind by all the money grabbers and he is dismissing all claims that the scene he’s involved in is slowly fading away. The proof of this, amongst many things, is his monthly event at Manchester’s Bowlers, Compulsion, where he took a big risk by launching a night not long after another in the same venue had collapsed weeks before. The difference between them and him was that he knew what the people wanted and how to carry it out.
For Demand, Compulsion meant giving back something to ravers he felt had been taken away from them – their unity. The scene had diversified in so many ways and therefore had segregated the crowds. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen. Something had to be done. And Demand wasn’t going to sit back and wait for someone else to do it.
It seems all the hard work has finally paid off. For most promoters, their first event after New Years Eve is a quiet one. For Demand, it was as busy as New Years Eve. Surely this can’t be right? Hardcore is dying…or is it?
What’s the bottom line, then, is hardcore dead?
“No, not at all”, replies Demand, “Hardcore went through a depression because people were doing things for the wrong reasons. People jumped on the bandwagon and there were lots of people making bad records. Unfortunately, distribution companies were putting so much out, it resulted in their being too much rubbish out there, which meant the good hardcore music being buried.
“Hardcore really just needed to reinvent itself as it had become so stagnant. Now, people who only wanted to make money, have realised that there is no money to be made in hardcore anymore and they have jumped off that bandwagon, leaving the people who were in it for the right reasons to make something of it again. The Compulsion event we had in February proved all that. We had as many people in then as we did on New Year’s Eve. They were still queuing five deep up till about 11pm, right around the side of Bowlers and up to the gates. It’s far from dead”.
What has been clubs to turn to another music from other than hardcore?
“No club can exist without a sense of direction. To be quite honest, I did lose interest in hardcore for a short while, but that didn’t mean I was going to jump on a bandwagon and start playing something else. I was basically waiting until the time was right, waiting till it looked liked there was a bit of hope for it all. The clubs began saying hardcore was dead when, in fact, they were booking the wrong DJs, purely because they were cheap, not because of their capabilities and what they knew musically. So these clubs were asking for trouble, really”.
How has your sound changed in all this time?
“My sound has changed totally. I got totally pissed off with the nonsense cheesy vocals and horrible childlike sounds going through it. It was so babyish. It started off as hardcore then went through a phase where it became happy hardcore. That’s when the mad, crazy records came out, they were basically about having fun and a good laugh. It started going ridiculous from there and went a bit too far. Nobody stopped to think which direction it was all going in. They just carried on doing what they were doing. They were selling records and filling nights, so they were all happy at the end of the day.
Putting a hard beat behind a pop record isn’t hardcore and that’s my views on it. It just died a death when promoters kept on doing that. Nowadays, I tend to be more diverse and experiment more. I’m constantly looking at taking hardcore further and further, giving it the credibility it deserves along the way”.
Why are so many DJs pulling away from hardcore?
“I think they all had the same feelings as myself and got really cheesed off at that they were playing. At the same time, there was a lot of good stuff being produced, especially on the house side. I’m not a house DJ and I don’t want to play it. I’m a hardcore DJ. The way the music is going, I can really see a fusion of styles. Hardcore is still hard and fast although it’s slower than quite a lot of hard house music getting produced today”.
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